The Secret to Growing Your Thrift Business

The success of your thrift store business depends heavily on information and the actions you take based on that information. In particular, donation and production data is critical. But how do you effectively collect the information you need and make sound business decisions?

The answer? QR Codes.

Quick Response codes, or QR codes as they are commonly known, are detailed, two-dimensional bar codes developed for the automotive industry back in 1994. Today, QR codes are used in a variety of industries, mainly for marketing purposes. Consumers scan codes to access websites, coupons, videos and more.

From a business perspective, the value of QR codes is the vast amount of information that can be encoded within the tiny black and white code. Unlike traditional bar codes, which can only hold 10-12 characters per linear inch, QR codes can hold thousands of characters.

For thrift stores, adding QR codes to merchandise tags is the secret to success and can lead to enhanced efficiency, more engaged and productive workers, satisfied customers and higher sales. QR codes allow you to capture richer information about your business processes. Information embedded in the code can include:

  • Tag Create Time
  • Name of Sorter
  • Donation Source
  • Item Category

With such information, you can track inventory accurately and calculate an item’s sell time. You can also determine individual sorter sell-through rates. Imagine knowing exactly who your strongest and weakest sorters are. And, the ability to identify which donation sources are the most productive is priceless.

“With production and sales information in real time, I can take immediate action before it’s too late.” Stephen Borasi, Retail Director at Goodwill of Silicon Valley


Improving Efficiency

Visibility and insight into your store’s production allows you to transform your production model from being output driven (items made per hour) to revenue driven (dollars sold per hour). Using these insights, you can change how you measure worker productivity and provide assistance to your weak sorters. You can enhance efficiency by ensuring that individual sorter goals are in alignment with the overall company goal of higher sales.

Increasing Engagement and Productivity of Staff

Once you can measure individual sorter contribution to your bottom line, you can offer them incentives based on sales. Conversely, when sorters are incentivized for creating tags that will sell, they will be more careful about what they put on the shelf (no stained or torn clothing, no chipped glassware, and no VHS tapes). Sorters will give more thought to assigning the right price, keeping the merchandise orderly, and eagerly assisting customers to buy goods.

Satisfying Customers and Increasing Sales

Customers expect value for their money. They want quality products and prompt, courteous service. Properly trained and incentivized workers will provide better customer service which
leads to higher customer satisfaction. Higher customer satisfaction leads to more repeat business, more referrals, and higher sales.

It all starts with the information embedded in a small black and white pixel pattern known as a QR code. Now is the time to use QR codes to grow your business. Do you want streamlined operations, more engaged workers, satisfied customers, and higher sales? Then, you need AMI. For a limited time, we are offering a free 30-day software trial. Get yours today!


David Chang is the President and Founder of Foresight Automation, the innovative technology company behind Adaptive Merchandise Identifier (AMI). Built specifically for the thrift industry, AMI is one of the most comprehensive and effective POS / Retail Management systems on the market. For more information, visit or call (949) 221-8563 to schedule a demo.

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